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Ohio Intrastate Plans 350 MMcf/d Expansion, Access to Chicago Hub, Rockies Supply

In an effort to provide Ohio customers with more gas supply diversity, North Coast Gas Transmission LLC said Thursday that it is planning a 350 MMcf/d gas pipeline expansion in Ohio that will provide access to Rocky Mountain production scheduled to arrive in the state through Kinder Morgan's proposed Rockies Express pipeline (see NGI, March 6). The expansion also will increase access to the Chicago Hub and to existing and potentially new gas storage facilities in the state.

The proposed $300 million pipeline expansion would loop North Coast's existing 12-inch diameter pipeline system, which has 80 MMcf/d of firm capacity, with a 30-inch diameter line and extend the system a total of about 175 miles to connections with Panhandle Eastern and ANR Pipeline in Defiance, OH, and to gas storage facilities in the Canton, OH, area. It also would provide access to Michigan storage via its ANR interconnection and potentially to new gas storage fields being planned in the state.

"Currently, more than 90% of Ohio's natural gas supply comes from the Gulf of Mexico region, and recent natural disasters in that area have hindered distribution and production of natural gas," said Alan Schriber, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, speaking at a news conference in Toledo with Andy Lang, president of Columbus, OH-based North Coast Gas. "The PUCO strategy has been to encourage development and further diversification of our state's energy infrastructure. North Coast coming forward with its new pipeline proposal is an example of this strategy at work."

The exact pipeline route will be determined through a review process conducted with Ohio regulatory authorities, the company said. Site evaluations and public meetings will start later this year in conjunction with the certification process. Construction on the project would begin in late 2007, with completion in late 2008.

"North Coast is committed to serving Ohio and providing Ohio consumers and businesses with reliable and diverse natural gas sources," Lang said. "We believe this pipeline will boost economic development in the region as well as reduce Ohio's dependence on Gulf region natural gas sources."

Schriber said the PUCO is not at the point of ruling on the merits of the North Coast proposal, but is encouraged by the private sector's willingness to investigate options for expanding the state's energy supply.

North Coast is a subsidiary of Somerset Gas Transmission Co. LLC and began operating its northern Ohio pipeline system in September 1998 after converting it from a products pipeline. Currently, it provides gas transportation for local distribution companies, end-users and market aggregators in northern Ohio. For additional details go to www.somersetgas.com.

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